It passed the MOT! I'm so surprised and happy, I had it in my head that it was going to cost a fortune and cause much more anguish and guilt about not having sold it sooner.
Got there at 9.20am for the 9.30am appointment, and they said it would be about 45 minutes. Went for a walk as J-cub was a bit antsy, I walked really fast and hard to try and drive out the cold (managed to get blisters on my fingers, which shows how infrequently I push the buggy for any distance) and now have achey legs. When I got back, it had failed, but just on emissions which didn't surprise me as it's been sitting on the drive for 8 months. They put something in the something and drove it around a bit, while I walked for another 45 minutes. Got back, and it passed.
Hurrah! They do advise new front tyres and brake discs or something, which is going to be quite expensive. My sister has said she thinks she'd like to have the car when she gets back from her holiday, so I'm going to wait and see what she wants to do. If she doesn't, then I'll get the tyres and brakes done, advertise it, sell it, and it'll be done. At last. And my nice new car can sit on the drive rather than on the road.
I realised this morning that there were several list items I was putting off due to not having the materials. I needed to take OldCar out for a spin to exercise its new battery and stomp on the brakes a bit to get rid of the rust in preparation for its MOT tomorrow (then I will have NOTHING stopping me from selling it - yay!). I set off for our local B&Q (our closest 'village' has an odd line in shops - rather than go for domestically useful things like food shop, we have a small industrial estate with garage door salesrooms, taxi offices, car dealerships and B&Q) and bought a silicone sealant scrapey-remover, silicone sealant, houseplant compost and hinges for cabinet doors (I had to buy a pack of 2 - chuh).
We spent the day with Jamie's parents and grandad, who were visiting on their way from Gravesend (where Grandad lives) to Anglesey (where the inlaws live). J-cub was a bit overwhelmed with all the attention, and our nerves were a bit on edge after a 3am screaming fit which came out of nowhere with no apparent cause. We've now pinpointed it to teething, in the absence of any other possible explanation, and I'm going to buy an amber teething necklace, despite Jamie's reservations. I figure it can't hurt, and I know lots of lovely intelligent people who swear by them, so I'm putting my cynicism aside for the sake of J-cub's pain levels. I actually think that it will work, but the evidence-based scientist in me has difficulty believing in things which have no evidence-base.
Teething tangents aside, I discovered that I couldn't simply take the missing screw from the new hinge and fix the old hinge, as they didn't fit. So I whipped the old hinge off, put the shiny new one on, and voila, the door opens and shuts without listing to one side. It even has a handy little cover-plate to prevent any future screw-losing incidents (shame I can't get one of them for me).
Not an awful lot I can say about this really - I've confirmed my return to work date as February 22nd, which is starting to seem awfully close.
All the free time I wrote about earlier was quickly eaten up, I spent the afternoon nap time (one hour 30 minutes) trying to do items 14 and 36, however I didn't have the right sized screw to fix the broken kitchen cabinet door (and rather think that I might have to buy a whole new hinge) and couldn't fix the lounge door handle as the cross head of one of the screws has been mangled and there's nothing for the screwdriver to grip. I have no idea how to get it out now.
In the evening I couldn't muster the energy to do anything more than emailing HR. At least it's something done though, rather than leaving another day to fly by with nothing crossed off the list, which is what I felt like doing.
Not strictly alone, as I have two cats and a baby to keep me company, but it's Jamie's first day back at work. He's still got more holiday to come, but he has to work the odd day here and there and in between.
It feels strange today, because I actually feel like I'm *whispers* doing a good job of being a mum. I haven't had any struggles or battles today, I haven't felt like shouting or crying or falling asleep. I've done 2 bottles, 2 meals, and 2 naps, I've cleaned the kitchen, tidied the lounge, shampooed the carpet by the door, had a shower, and played lots of games.
It's also the first time I've been home alone to experience J-cub's new napping routine. Before Jamie went off on holiday, J-cub would, if I was lucky, sleep for 35 minutes in the morning, and the same in the afternoon. Since being sick, and obviously being much more active what with all the crawling and trying to walk, he's been sleeping for 2 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the afternoon. I've been moaning non-stop about this, as whilst it's definitely a good thing, it doesn't seem fair that he should only do it when his Daddy is around.
But lo and behold, so far so good. One hour and 20 minutes this morning, after falling straight asleep without a fight (ahhh my back is so thankful...). The jury's still out about this afternoon nap, he went down 15 minutes ago, again without a fight. It's blissful to have time to get stuff done.
And since I whizzed around like a lunatic this morning, I'm now faced with that rarest of things - a sleeping baby and NOTHING I HAVE TO DO. Jamie's parents and grandad are arriving this evening (hence the frantic tidying), although they're not staying here as we don't have enough room for everyone. They're taking Jamie out for a meal (which I'm more than happy about, someone has to babysit and it'll be nice to have some more peace and quiet) so I'll have several more free hours this evening. I could get something done off my list, or I could do that this evening. I could get back to learning to knit, or I could do that this evening.
It is just nicer than I can express in words, to have the option of doing nothing at all, and not feeling guilty about it, because I've already achieved, and I'll have achieved more (with my list item), before the day is out.
This list is proving more beneficial in unexpected ways every day. Example, yesterday whilst fitting the catch on the cupboard under the sink, I noticed the inside of the cupboard door was dirty, so I cleaned it. Then I noticed the front of the washing machine was dirty, so I cleaned it. Then I noticed there were some cat hairs stuck on the inside of the glass, so I wiped them off, and in doing so, moved the rubber seal and found a very clean and shiny 20p piece. 20p might not sound like much, but that can go in the change jar for a future trip to the CoinStar. And now, rather than thinking "Ugh, it's so dirty everywhere", I can think "Actually, the inside of that cupboard door is well shiny. And that washing machine? No dust there."
It makes me feel a bit less like a pathetic excuse for a human being, and a bit more like I might be getting this being a mum thing cracked.
J-cub's perambulatory abilities leapt ahead today, as he made a break from the lounge into the kitchen at top speed several times, and I exhausted myself running after him (obviously making "raaaaaaaah" noises to elicit shrieks of fear and delight). The kitchen has a hard stone tiled floor, which is not really ideal for a soft and delicate little baby head to be anywhere near. Plus there's the litter tray, and the cat food, and the cats come running in without wiping their feet etc etc.
So today's list item was really a no-brainer, and I got out our little box of baby proofing catches and the like, to sort out the nasty cleaning-cupboard-under-the-sink door. Luckily, the previous occupants of our house also had a small child, so most of the kitchen cupboards already have these catches. The one on the cupboard under the sink has broken though, and the pack I'd been given in a box of useful baby-stuff is a bit more secure, requiring one to pinch together the catch in order to open the door, rather than just giving it a good yank which is all the others require.
The instructions on the back of the pack handily remind you not to leave your child running loose in the kitchen, so we got out our travel stair-gate thing, which was the only way we could find to block off the kitchen without shutting the door and annoying the cats. I had wanted to put a permanent stair gate in the doorway, and was confused that I could not seem to do so without being unable to shut the door. I took a sneaky visit into my next-door neighbour's identical house to see how she'd managed it - turns out they've taken the kitchen door off its hinges and just have the gate there. They have a dog, so that probably works quite well for them, but cats can apparently jump quite high, so if we need to shut them in the kitchen for any reason, we really need a functioning door.
We were left with just the slightly-crappy option of the foldable travel stair-gate, which is a bit wobbly. We put it up, and let J-cub have a good go at it (we let the cats have a go first. They managed to surpass their previous levels of stupidity by repeatedly trying to push their faces through the mesh, until we built steps on either side to show them that they could actually jump it relatively easily.). He found it very amusing, and enjoyed alternately trying to peer over it, and pushing his face against the mesh (he does share a lot of similarities with those cats).
It didn't take him long to knock the gate down, after which we got out the instructions and put it up properly and securely. Like the good parents we are.
I had the best intentions yesterday, I really did. I got out my drill, charged it, found appropriately sized screws, unwrapped the hooks bought with the express purpose of being attached to the back of the hallway cupboard door (#96) .... they didn't fit. Well they did, but the door wouldn't have been able to shut again, as it sits flush inside the edge-thingy-bit.
So I gave up on that, then it was time for J-cub to go to bed (early again, the after-effects of this bug seem to be overwhelming levels of exhaustion) and then I was struck by overwhelming levels of exhaustion which saw me in bed after a quick viewing of the Only Connect Champions of Champions Grand Final (I answered one question! Me! Mitochondria!). So nothing doing, leaving me with 4 days of catching up to do.
We're all feeling much the same today, so I picked a nice easy item, and got some old books off our over-crowded bedroom bookcase to take to a charity shop. I hate getting rid of books, but even I had to admit that I wasn't likely to read the diary of Brooklyn Beckham any time soon. I managed to fill a whole Pampers box (they're quite big), leaving a whole nice empty shelf to be restocked with Christmas present books. Yay!
I've spent most of the morning battling with a screaming baby - reason for screaming as yet undiscovered so my nerves are pretty much worn to a shred. Looking for some light refreshment after he'd fallen asleep, I stumbled across this a-ma-zing latte art which puts my aforementioned Guinness-cloverleaf skills to shame. Enjoy.
Well this is going to have to be my first substituted item. It seems the powers that be were conspiring against J-cub meeting Santa during his first festive period.
First, we took him to see Santa when he visited our village. He was due to arrive at 5.30pm, we duly wrapped up warm and walked around to the village hall. By the time Santa arrived, nearly half an hour late, J-cub was fast asleep in the buggy (with the knock-on effect that he was up until nearly 9pm) and the queue was about 6 people deep and stretched a good hundred yards away from the door. I had no idea there were so many children in this village. It started raining: we gave in and came home. We did get a nice photo with the sleigh though:
Our next attempt was at the village Mother and Baby group Christmas party, where Santa was supposed to come to hand out the Secret Santa presents. He was due to come from the North Pole via Llandeilo, and the heavy snow the day before meant he had no chance of getting out. The party was where we caught our lovely gastroenteritis, so even though there were still 4 days until Christmas, the thought of leaving the house for anything so jolly as meeting Santa was just impossible.
So I have substituted #25 with a reserve item from my quickly-growing 'Things that are not on my list' list. I will be finishing the nursery curtains instead (not necessarily today, I'm just trying to get the list and the blog back on track for now).
Since he has no others to compare to, he won't know that Christmasses aren't usually spent with little or no food and parents alternately groaning and sleeping.
I think we'll have a hard time explaining to him why he doesn't get a new toy every 10 minutes tomorrow ...
Will update with pictures soon.
Update: So all in all it really was a lovely Christmas. The cats woke me up at 7am, but I'd had my first unbroken night's sleep (well, I'd woken to hear Jamie throwing up every 2 hours, but figured he could look after himself, I was just too thankful to not be the one hugging the toilet any more) so I skipped downstairs relatively happily. I had a nice hour on my own before J-cub woke up, when I also managed to drag Jamie out of bed in an attempt to raise some family Christmas spirit. We lasted about 2 hours, before J-cub decided he'd had enough and needed to go back to bed, and Jamie concurred. It took me an hour to get J-cub down for his nap (this has to be THE most frustrating thing about motherhood. You're clearly exhausted, so why fight me to sleep? Just LET GO!), but he (and Jamie) then slept for a blissful 2 and a half hours. I watched the wedding of Sarah-Jane Smith (again) and The Santa Clause (again) and dicked around on the Internet (reading Malory Towers fanfic, if you're interested).
When the boys got up, I had just heated up a frozen pizza (Dr. Oetker's Mozzarella; far and away the nicest frozen pizza available) and we actually managed to eat some, although J-cub put us to shame by shoving a whole piece in his mouth at once. When lunch was finished, we got down to the serious business of opening presents. J-cub is brilliant at opening presents, he'd managed to get most of the tags off the ones under the tree before Christmas even started, so it was a bit like a tombola under the tree.
He got a bit overwhelmed after a while, so we left the remainder for Boxing Day, and gave him an early night with no tea (cos I don't think he would have lasted much past 6, not because we were being mean). We had a lovely evening watching Doctor Who (woooo! Can't wait til next week for the rest), Gavin and Stacey (reliving J-cub's first dip in the sea on Barry Island in the summer) and Catherine Tate (which I hadn't intended to watch but it was strangely compelling). Early to bed, and we all slept the night through. Yay!
Oh just wanted to add a quick note to say that we specifically asked grandparents not to go crazy for Christmas. I dread to think what he would have got if we hadn't said that ... where are we going to put all this stuff?!
Gah - I'm now just about recovered from what a quick trip to the GP yesterday confirmed is gastroenteritis. I've spent just about 48 hours in bed, not able to keep anything down, listening to the washing machine on constantly as poor Jamie attempted to cope with both ends of the baby copiously leaking bodily fluids.
J-cub has now been sick free for 36 hours, and I woke up feeling much better at 10pm last night, with 2 hours left to enjoy Christmas Eve. I came downstairs, and 10 minutes later was listening to Jamie losing the contents of his stomach.
So it's now Christmas Day, and my 2 beloveds have been asleep for nearly 2 hours. I've cried a few tears, for the Christmas that should have been, and I've put a plain pizza in the oven, as I don't think anyone's going to be thinking about Christmas Dinner today.
Oh and I had a lovely email from Josie Long, who Jamie had emailed to ask for a sick note to stop me stressing about my 100 days project. So I'm not stressing any more. I'll get back to it when I can - right now my priorities are more focused around scrubbing milky-sick out of carpets (because however good men are at looking after babies, the importance of some things just escapes them), and obsessively cleaning all surfaces and toilets to prevent any sort of reinfection.
Merry Christmas to all - enjoy every mouthful of that food.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed an absence of posts yesterday. I failed. I was struck down with some sort of winter sickness bug (as was J-cub), and it was all I could do not to be sick every time I moved, let alone think about putting curtains up or whatever.
So I'm now writing a sickness clause into my 100 days project. If I'm incapacitated by sickness and can't do anything, then I have to do 2 items on one day to make up for it at my earliest convenience. Don't worry - I feel guilty enough about this that you don't need to berate me for cheating, I'll be doing that for you.
Hopefully I'll feel better enough to do something later on, although I've only been up for about an hour and am clinging carefully to the sofa in an effort to quell the waves of nausea.
1. Finely chop 50g milk/plain chocolate with the cranberries and pistachio nuts, reserving a few pieces for decoration.
2. Dust work surface with icing sugar. Roll marzipan into a rectangle 23x33cm (9x13in). Cut into 4 equal pieces. Sprinkle each with the chopped chocolate and nut ixture then roll up tightly to make log shapes.
3. Mel remaining milk or plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (or heat in the microwave until melted). Spread over the logs and leave in a cool place to set.
4. Melt the white chocolate in the same way. Drizzle over the logs and decorate with pistachio and cranberry pieces. I don't like white chocolate so I made icing from icing sugar and water mixed slowly, then drizzled over the logs in the same way.
5. Leave to cool, cut in slices and giftwrap in Cellophane. Keeps for 2 weeks in an airtight container.
No actual baking involved - so not strictly Christmas baking, but it was all I could muster the enthusiasm to do. And since I made them when I was brewing the stomach bug we've all been doing with, I should probably throw them away now :(
I really need to find some time to update posts properly. 36 hours until all visitors leave, then I'll have plenty of time.
Update: I really can't take credit for this one. My darling sister visited for the weekend, and as we live close to a B&Q, she disappeared one morning to buy a toilet seat. I asked her to get me a radiator bleed key, as I'd found them on various plumbing websites for the princely sum of around 40p, but with a whopping £2.99 postage. She came back with one which cost a pound, and 'just to check it worked', proceeded to bleed all the radiators. Bless her. I can't even take credit for knowing how to do it; just for having the right book, which I highly recommend every house to have a copy of as it's a) funny and b) very useful.
Update: not an awful lot I can say here, without discussing the ins and outs of what is essentially a confidential process and job. It was a hard decision; we only interviewed 2 applicants in the end but both were good for different reasons, and in the end we went with experience (JetlagGirl) over novelty (FirstEverBoy).
It was hard using my brain after such a long time off, and after having lost a large proportion of my brain during labour and the first few difficult months. But once I got back into it, it was fun, and interesting, and made me more excited about going back in (argh) just 2 months time. JetlagGirl will be starting straight after Christmas, working full time as my maternity cover until I return at the end of February, when she'll jobshare with me. She seems to be committed for the longterm which will be nice, as I don't want to have to go through all this again in a couple of months.
Posts might be a bit thin on the ground for the next few days - I've got my sister here for the weekend then my parents for the next few days. I will be doing list items, and I will endeavour to at least post the number and title, then I'll update when I have chance.
Cards and presents posted!
AA came out to fix car, car now fixed and the very nice man told me what it was worth and not to let it go cheap.
Went back to Borders sale and bought more baby books, now up to 70% off.
Despite having got off to a bit of rocky start re: buying Christmas presents (got overexcited buying baby presents and forgot I had a husband, family and friends to buy/make for too), it all suddenly came together when the last pile of presents was delivered this morning.
And the lovely postlady, evidently hearing the screams (teething) emanating from the house, nicely left the parcels outside the front door rather than making me answer the door at that point or leaving me a card to collect them from the sorting office later.
Usually, I spend Christmas Eve morning anxiously hopping from foot to foot in front of the lounge window, waiting for her to turn up with all the presents I've bought online but have yet to receive. I do then have the pleasure of wrapping them during the day on Christmas Eve, watching Love Actually, which is quite a nice Christmassy spirit thing to do.
But it's nice to have them all done out of the way, so I can give my anxiety a break and relax in the knowledge that my nearest and dearest will be opening their presents on Christmas Day. Evidently my anxiety needed something else to eat away at, as I've been torn up with guilt all day about not having sold the car. I'll see if I can do something about that tomorrow though...
I spent the morning fighting rolls of wrapping paper out of J-cub's drool-covered fists and removing sellotape and scissors from his reach, and finally got a lovely stack of presents under the tree.
By tea-time, J-cub had almost unwrapped most of them several times. Did I mention that he's suddenly started crawling? The speed at which he can move is quite astonishing, and I haven't quite adjusted my baby-monitoring skills to be able to keep up with him at all times. I don't know whether the presents will last an entire week under the tree, but they look very pretty for now.
We braved the Christmas crowds today (although, on a weekday morning, it wasn't actually too bad) to finish our Christmas shopping. It wasn't too difficult, just some ingredients for some yummy cranberry and pistachio yule logs I'm going to make, and some bits and bobs for friends' babies.
We have a Borders at our local retail park, which is currently in administration. Although grossly overpriced (which was probably their downfall), it's always been one of my favourite shops there, as it's huge, with massive high ceilings and a Starbucks on the mezzanine level, so smells all coffeey and has lovely specialised art books and sewing books and they don't mind if you sit and read books all day and don't buy anything.
Over the summer, when all was slightly falling apart in my head, post-baby, I spent a lot of time there. I posted a "help, I need friends" message on netmums and started regularly meeting 2 lovely girls with babies similarly aged to J-cub. We met in Starbucks as it was local to all of us, and nice to do something normal for a change. We would sit for hours and talk about breastfeeding, and nappies, and sleep, and colic, and screaming, and sympathise with each other about how everything still hurt so damn much.
When the babies got a bit bigger and started being more active, we gave up with Starbucks in favour of going to one another's houses where the babies could wreak havoc and no-one would mind. I still kept going back to Borders, enjoying being the only person in there on a weekday morning, looking at all the lovely books while J-cub slept in the sling or the buggy. They even put on mum and baby groups in the summer holidays, which were a bit chaotic but fun.
Today, we walked around the sale, which is now up to 60% off with 7 days to go. I have never seen so many people in there, it's like a crazy book jumble sale with piles of books in no particular categories everywhere, and all the bookshelves, fixtures and fittings gradually being ripped out and sold off at ridiculously low prices (£10 for a 5 foot square solid wood table with book rails down the middle - not really the sort of thing that you need but I was still sorely tempted).
The Christmas music playing as we walked around was Silent Night, and I actually found myself close to tears (motherhood will do that to you). I know they're a multi-national company, and blah blah, but I don't care. I loved that store, and it gave me a calm oasis when I felt like everything was falling apart in the summer.
So we walked around, and shuffled through piles of books, and found some nice things for J-cub and each other for Christmas, and we left. Pretty much the same thing we've been doing every few days for the last week. Christmas shopping done, now I just need to wrap and post those that need posting, and make the edible presents.
Another quick and easy one tonight, as I've been struggling with J-cub's teething pains all day. Pinned him down to have a look this evening and there are THREE new teeth. No wonder he's been tearing my hair out all day.
I'm shattered, so sorry that posts are a bit thin on the ground. I'll try and do something bigger tomorrow.
Recycling unit - top drawer=paper, middle drawer=cardboard, bottom drawer was intended for plastic, until they stopped doing plastic. Now it gets bundled up into carrier bags and we take it down the tip ourselves (or it just sits in the garage for months on end. When I was pregnant, we decided to clear the bags of carrier bags out of the garage. For clarification, these are single carrier bags, each stuffed with as many carrier bags as they can hold, tied by the handles. We put them all in the car and took them to be recycled at Tesco. They filled TWO entire big trolleys. Since then, we've kept it firmly under control, using only reusable bags except on the rare occasion where we forget, and those get recycled straight away). Anyway, bottom drawer had turned into a dumping ground for bits and bobs (and glass, because we don't have much glass).
I cleared it out, and put the glass bottles back in for now as they don't collect until Thursday. Then we're going to use it for a downstairs laundry basket, as J-cub tends to need his clothes changed several times a day, and I change him downstairs for ease, and so there's always a pile of dirty clothes on the floor by the washing machine. Baby clothes are little, see, and you need a hell of a lot of them to fill up a load (and going upstairs to get mine or Jamie's clothes to complete the load would be just Too Much Effort).
I've written them. I'm tired. I'll post pictures tomorrow x
ETA - Pictures as promised, and blimey it makes a difference to your Christmas card list when you've got a baby. Last year, I wrote cards for my immediate neighbours to the left and the right. They were the only people I knew in the village. Now, I think there were 17 for people in the village. In the seven years we've lived here, I don't think I'd spoken to 17 people before I had the baby. The most difficult thing was trying to remember the names of their significant others, as I generally just meet mums around on walks or at the village baby group, and husband's or partner's names crop up but don't tend to stick. Thank goodness for my facebook-stalking skills.
Anyway, cards all done, just need pictures of the baby sticking inside (all printed and awaiting collection in Tesco), stamps, parcelling up for those lucky enough to be getting presents too, and away they go.
Exhausting day today, with the in-laws having their Christmas Day with J-cub, and him having a bad day of grizzles and pain and upset all day, culminating in him hitting his head in the bath, screaming the house down and resulting in a huge lump.
Once he'd gone to bed, and between the half-hourly checks to make sure he's okay, I've been trying to tidy up, calm down, eat something, and figure out which list item to do. We were going to write the Christmas cards, and even managed to dig out the address book (we lost it for a whole year once - and found it packed in with the previous year's Christmas cards in the box of Christmas decorations), but somehow have neglected to buy any Christmas cards, so that idea was out.
I decided instead to clean out my baking cupboard (baking materials on top; cereal, jam and misc. on the bottom). This post could now be subtitled 'Oh, the guilt'. In fact...
Oh, the guilt
The above photograph shows all the out-of-date products out of the cupboard. It was practically all of it, bar 2 small bags of flour (SR and plain) and a tub of baking powder, bought since J-cub was born. In my defence, I used to do a lot of baking, but this was precluded during my pregnancy due firstly to the morning sickness, then by the general size of me, which made me feel far more like buying cake rather than making it. Since he's been born, I've barely made anything at all, other than various breads and cakes and muffins since he's started on solids.
Still, throwing away that much food when so many people have so little, made me feel so guilty. So I've made a donation to Crisis, not to assuage my guilt, but to try to atone for my wastefulness. I will assuage my guilt by not repeating the same mistake - I'll only buy things as I need them, I'll keep track of the use-by dates, and I'll use them.
I forgot to take a photo of the cupboard before I started, but here it is now, almost empty:
I think I might put the cereal back down and put all my baking trays and tins on the top shelf, to make more room in the big cupboard full of pots and pans and plastic tubs and bits and bobs. God I'm boring myself now. Goodnight.
I spent a blissfully quiet day on my own, as Jamie and his parents took out J-cub to do some Christmas shopping. I spent most of the 3 hours feeling guilty about surfing the Internet, and not doing any jobs, whilst simultaneously feeling like I should be enjoying my time off and just doing whatever I felt like (which was watching The Grinch and cracking on with crocheting J-cub's mobile).
I didn't end up doing anything useful, so in essence wasted my time. I've tried to make up for it since a bored and antsy J-cub was dropped off back at home as the others were en route to another retail park. We had a bit of a play, and a bottle, and then I searched the list for something quick to do before the family got back.
I settled on cleaning the living room mirror, which is a job I hate. I'm sure if I did it more often, it wouldn't be such a pain, but it's big, and heavy, and dirt sticks to it like glue. A few years ago I wrote a birthday message to Jamie on it in lipstick, and that's made it even worse. It really needed taking down and cleaning on the floor, but with J-cub rolling around, I was worried about his safety so elected to do it in situ.
It took AGES. I wouldn't let myself finish until I couldn't see a single smear from any angle, and despite using window cleaner, and vinegar, and newspaper, and Plenty of Bounty, I still had to clean it about 6 times before it met my standards. And now it looks like a window to a parallel universe, it's so clean that you might accidentally fall through it.
I don't think you can really capture that in a photo, but I've tried (batteries finally working - yay!).
(oh and in case you were wondering what the yellow folded card is in the bottom right-hand corner, [NAME DROPPING ALERT!] it's a handmade Get Well Soon card from Phill Jupitus, cos I am THAT cool.)
I had two potentially largeish list items lined up to do today, and managed to fail at both by lunchtime.
#7 - Hire someone to jobshare with me. I've been hitting up the Internet hard, advertising the job, sorting through CVs, emailing lists of questions to applicants and whittling down a shortlist. The three shortlisted applicants were supposed to be interviewed this afternoon, however one cried off due to jetlag having just returned from a year in New Zealand (fair enough), and one emailed at 9.30pm last night to say she's accepted a position elsewhere. It's not really a good use of time to interview one person at once, as there is a lot of explanation of theory and therapy to do, so it's easier to do as many people together as possible. So I've postponed the one remaining applicant (and our first male interviewee - it being a caring type of job means our applicants are mostly female) until next week, so we can do JetlagGirl and FirstEverBoy together.
#17 - Sell car. This car is the bane of my life. Last summer, during a heatwave, the aircon conked out. I was (only slightly) pregnant at the time, and we had to drive to Derbyshire to DJ at the fantastic Indietracks festival. The festival was blissful, with fantastic bands, a lovely atmosphere (at a steam railway! What more could you want), and we met some fantastic people who have become good friends. Driving up and back, on the motorway, pregnant, with no aircon, was horrendous. We had to stop at every service station to sit in the shade and cool down.
Then (well, after a few months had passed), the winter hit, and the heating broke. Approximate cost to fix = £450. I was heavily pregnant by then, and learnt that after driving for 40 minutes, the heating would come on, although by then I had usually turned into an icicle.
After J-cub was born, my Dad wanted to change his car, and was offered a low part-exchange price for his current car. He knew we wanted a new car, so offered it to me for the low PE price, as he'd rather I benefited from it, rather than the dealership. So we had a lovely shiny new car, and I planned to sell the old one on adtrader or ebay or something. But baby things rather got in the way, and I found it was hard to do something like go and clean all the junk out of an old car when you've got a baby stuck to your breast for 20 hours a day. It just sat there, and rusted, and did nothing, and I was eaten up with guilt and anxiety every time I looked at it (which obviously didn't make me do anything about it).
So this morning, with lovely father-in-law here to help, I thought I'd try and get it ready for selling. I knew the battery was flat, as I tried to start it a week or so ago. It's facing the wrong way on the drive, with the bonnet away from the street so I can't attach jump leads to the new car without turning it around. We tried this morning to push it down the drive, and it won't move. We pumped up all the tyres, had 3 of us rocking and pushing and shouting at it, and it's stuck fast. I'm guessing something's happened to the brakes, or the wheels have rusted tight or something (I'm not really good at cars).
Anyway, it's not budging, the battery is as flat as anything, and I don't know what to do. What I really want, is for someone to turn up and give me some cash for it and take it away.
I've paid insurance and tax on it all this time, because I'm an idiot. It's reasons like this, that this list is a good idea for me, I just wish I could have started by selling it 8 months ago. Or at least started the engine every once in a while, and driven it around the block.
(<---- my camera's batteries are still refusing to behave in a battery-like fashion, and so I've resorted to using the camera on my phone. It doesn't have very many mega-pixels, so the photos aren't very good. Then again, the quality of photos I've been taking lately with my camera camera aren't very good. I blame the camera, because I'm a bad workman. I couldn't find an 11 for the picture to the left, so I fashioned one out of some pencils, because pencils look like ones, right?)
I know technically our family visits started last week with Nurse Rachel coming to stay, however she's a sister and therefore Doesn't Count, as she doesn't mind if it's a bit messy. The inlaws are arriving this evening to stay for the weekend, so the study needed to be made parent-friendly. We've somehow managed to avoid doing any tidying all week, and so have spent the day in a whirlwind of activity. Most notably:
- I spent ages this morning scrubbing between the tiles in the bathroom with a toothbrush, before cleaning the dust from behind the toilet, cleaning the bottom bit of the toilet, and scrubbing the floor. I was devastated to learn this was not a list item. But I did it anyway, and credit where it's due, it looks fab.
- I went through J-cubs chest of drawers and removed all clothes which he no longer fits into, and folded all the rest of his clothes so it's easily accessible, rather than just thrown on a pile on the floor.
- We put the empty boxes which the Christmas decorations were in back into the loft. This is the first year that we haven't been able to store them in the box room, as it's now a nursery. Awwww.
- Jamie cleaned out the study of all miscellaneous boxes of tat, and tidied up what was left.
- I made up the futon, cleverly saving time by ironing the sheet and duvet cover once they were on the bed. If you don't do this already, you should. It saves time, is easier than trying to control a duvet cover on an ironing board, doesn't get wrinkled again when you put it on the duvet as it's already on, and nicely warms the bed for your visitors.
- I folded the guest towels, as Anthea Turner taught me in her 'How to waste your life away be a perfect housewife' show.
- I cleaned the study windows (the window cleaner helpfully turned up yesterday so the outsides were done).
- We're still in the midst of tidying downstairs, I just needed to take a break and thought I'd write this before we have to go to Tesco. So I'll pre-emptorially (I don't care if that's not a word, it should be) say:
- Did a big Tesco shop.
Here's a picture of the study (again, taken with camera phone, sorry), looking beautiful and shiny and visitor ready:
(<--- that's a temporary picture, as I obviously didn't take it (obviously cos I don't go to pubs very often, and if I do, I don't spend time in there writing numbers in pints of Guiness. I used to be a dab hand at the cloverleaf back in the day though) and I'll update it when my camera has fully charged batteries, which it doesn't at the moment, and I have no patience to wait.)
So today we went to see the nursery we want J-cub to go to, as it's just a couple of minutes away from my workplace, so he can be there for the minimum amount of time (I have a 30 minute commute, so if he went to somewhere near home, he'd be there for an extra hour). It was very nice, all the staff were welcoming and enthusiastic and qualified, and the children were happy. However, I came away feeling strange on two accounts.
Firstly, I don't want to go back to work. I don't want to have someone else raising my child, albeit for just one full day and one two-thirds of a day. I don't want to miss his milestones, or even to miss the day-to-day mundaneness which makes parenthood so constantly amazing. It makes me sad to think that in just over 2 months time, this year off will come to an end and I'll have to return to real life. We don't have a choice, we couldn't afford for one of us not to work at all, and even if we could, I couldn't give up my job (which I love) and make Jamie work full time at his job (which he hates). That would be desperately unfair. So instead, we've compromised by both going part time. I'll work Monday-Wednesday, with J-cub in nursery Monday and Tuesday, and at home with Jamie on Wednesdays and at home with me Thursday and Friday. We'll see how it goes anyway, both of our jobs are pretty flexible which is nice. Anyway, it's all self-pity and blah, I know I have to go, so I have to get on with it.
Secondly, I didn't realise our parenting style was so odd. We didn't have any particularly strong views about parenting before or even during my pregnancy. Since J-cub arrived though, we've been completely baby-led, taking his cues for feeding, sleeping, eating, routines, everything. This is known as Attachment Parenting, although we haven't been able to follow it in all areas, due to my inability to breastfeed (due to complications from the start, I mixed fed for 6 months, and haven't stopped beating myself up about it yet) and Jamie's inability to function on anything less than strong painkillers and antidepressants (which are big no-no's for co-sleeping).
Today though, you would have thought we were from another planet. The nursery had no knowledge of baby-led weaning, which isn't really surprising since even a lot of health professionals seem to be clueless. They were at least receptive to it, and happy for J-cub to have toddler meals, and not to spoon feed him or force him to eat. They seemed surprised he wore sleeping bags to sleep in, which I thought were much more common. My mention of baby-signing was met with blank stares - no comprehension of what I was talking about at all ("Did she say baby signing?"). Luckily, one of the staff in the baby room overheard and piped up that he'd learnt signing as part of an SEN course he'd done, and he seemed very keen to put it in action. Maybe we'll be lucky and he'll be J-cub's keyworker. We don't have a routine during the day and he just sleeps when he needs it - I guess we'll fight those battles when we come to them as they asked if he goes into the cot awake and I said no, and they looked worried.
Maybe I'm being unfair on them, maybe they didn't care. I just came away with the impression that they thought we were weird hippies. I think it's just that I don't see what we're doing as that unusual. Then again, I read blogs and forums by parents who are following the ideals of Attachment Parenting; I don't read blogs and forums by parents who are following Gina Ford routines. I suppose we'll just have to see how it goes. We left J-cub in the baby room while we went into the office, and he was absolutely fine.
At least it's done, and that's another weight off my mind. Nothing to stop me going back to work now though :(
And you can't have a photo of the nursery, because then you might track down J-cub and steal him (he is very cute, I wouldn't blame you). Instead, have a few pictures of our trip to the beach afterwards:
Me wearing J-cub in the Mei Tai
A crab in a lobster pot
J-cub walking over to check out the contents of a lobster pot
Busy day today - worked on lots of list items which are too big to be done in one day (numbers 7, 11, 39, 52, 60, 68, and 75 if you're interested). Although none were finished, I had a great sense of accomplishment that I am actually sorting things out, rather than burying my head in the sand.
It's been over a week now that I've been doing this, and if I was going to fail, I'm sure it would have been during the first week, before I got into the discipline of doing things daily. I don't suppose for a second that it will be plain sailing from here on, but I am already starting to think about doing 200 days, or 300 days, or a whole year.
We'll see whether I still feel the same way when I'm up a ladder painting the hallway or scrubbing the black algae-type stuff which is growing on the decking.
I wanted to get an outdoor job done today, as the weather has been so horrendous that I've barely had the chance to step outside, let alone have the inclination to do anything out there.
So I cleaned all the moss, dirt, leaf mould, stones and general debris which had accumulated in the drain, repositioned the guttering and crossed my fingers that water will now flow away rather than just sitting there.
It was dark by the time I'd finished so no photo again. Go and look at the staircase in my previous post, that's far more interesting than a photo of a drain.
A quick list-free post from me this morning, to share something I saw yesterday which I cannot get out of my head, I want it so much. I suppose it is kind of related to the list, seeing as how I'm attempting to declutter and organise my life, and a large part of that are the millions of books lying around the house with nowhere to live. This staircase would solve that problem, as well as filling me with utter delight every time I walk up and down it.
I spend a lot of time sitting on the stairs, as it's where I tend to conduct my phone conversations. Imagine sitting on this staircase, and having all those lovely spines to look at while talking, or just climbing up and down, looking for a book ... I don't think I've ever wanted anything so much in my life.
Although, with Jamie being as accident prone as he is (the aforementioned accident which kept him off work over the summer was falling from the very top to the very bottom of the stairs), a polished wood staircase might not be the best idea.
A quiet day today, as sister-in-law Rachel departed back to Bangor (bless her, doing that drive in the pouring rain) and Jamie was working one of his few December work days (long time off ddue to injury in the summer means he has loads of holiday to take now). After they'd left and J-cub was upstairs having his nap, it was blissful to have half an hour of absolute silence to just sit and do nothing.
It probably would have been an ideal to get on with a bigger job, but I was readjusting to looking after a fast-moving baby on my own and spent most of the day chasing him around the living room while he rolled around making mischief.
It was a lovely day though, with lots of silliness and giggles. I think I'm more suited to conversing with children than I am with adults, seeing as how I've never really grown up and developed appropriate social skills, and J-cub doesn't really seem to care if I just make monkey noises at him all day.
After he'd gone to bed, I cracked on with #27, which has been driving me crazy for years. We put a shelf up in the kitchen ages ago, and it's been used as a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish (and garlic) ever since. In fact, the only thing that ever gets taken off it and used, is the garlic. Which can quite easily live in a cupboard. Meanwhile, the counter top below has all kinds of baby paraphernalia all over it, and therefore can't be used as a workspace.
So off came all the crap, all the grease and dust was cleaned off (dust+grease=almost impossible to clean), and everything from the counter was moved up. Hopefully we'll manage to keep putting things back on the shelf and be able to reclaim the workspace below. Granted, this would have been more useful in the early baby days when I had all my breastpump bits and bobs knocking around and getting lost everywhere, but better late than never.
Before - should really have got the counter top in.
It's proving much harder than anticipated to do list items when I'm simultaneously trying to be a good Christmas host. Another day of failed attempts today, tried to do #8, but if the baby wasn't asleep (can't drill holes when baby is asleep), then we were caught up playing/eating/having Christmas fun. Tried to do #64, but Ikea frames proved almost impossible to get lovely posters into, and after I'd finally wrestled them into submission, I discovered I'd put the hanging clippy things in upside down and was not about to start it all over again. Tried to do #25 as Santa was visiting our village, but J-cub fell asleep and the queue was massive and Santa was, quite frankly, not very Santa-ish so elected to go to a grotto another day. I've been planning on doing something relatively medium-sized all evening, but playing Wii and eating chocolate cake and watching J-cub eat not one, but two whole entire pears made the whole evening pass by in the blink of an eye.
I was left with no energy or inclination to do anything, and started having thoughts about lying and saying I'd done something I hadn't. But NO! I will not succumb to lying about things to people I don't know. So I took my faithful dust puppy, and dusted the bathroom walls. It took about a minute, and I know I should do it more often (why do they attract so much dust?!), and really it shouldn't have been a list item at all but it is one of those things that I've kept meaning to do and never do and now it's done.
And you don't get a picture, because taking a picture of no dust falls beyond the realms of my photographic capabilities.
Our first Christmas Day today started with introducing a very excited baby to the Christmas tree. We were rewarded with lots of clapping for our decorating efforts; he thought it was very shiny and pretty and had lots of things for pulling and biting and looking at.
We went out for a roast dinner; however the rest of the world seemed to have the same idea and so we had great difficulty finding a table. We ended up in Frankie and Benny's, which is very baby friendly and he had a good old munch on garlic bread, burger, tomato, cucumber, potato, yorkshire pudding and carrot. The roast my sister-in-law ordered seemed to be more deep fried rather than roasted, but the rest of our food was yummy.
We then went to the Clark's concession in Mothercare, had J-cub measured for shoes (4H for those of you who're keeping track) and tried on a few pairs until we found one that he liked. He took great exaggerated steps around the floor, confused by the unfamiliarity of a weight on his feet. He seemed to walk better though, and stood more flat-footed rather than on his tippy-toes. Auntie Rachel bought the shoes as his Christmas present, and he wore them home. They're so lovely, and perhaps we'll get less comments about him being too old for booties now (the main disadvantage to having a bigger-than-average baby, is that people presume he's older than he is, and therefore either developmentally-challenged or we're not parenting him right. It's quite annoying.).
J-cub applauding our tree-decorating skillz
J-cub playing with shiny things
J-cub being measured for shoes
And having a practise walk in his lovely new shoes
We had a lovely lazy today, with lots of good intentions which were overtaken by the pouring rain and feelings of malaise and imminent illness. So we spent the day, quite simply, playing on the floor with J-cub, dancing to Christmas songs with him in a Santa hat and eating several long, leisurely meals (and by several, I mean two. We're not greedy.).
We did manage to get the Christmas decorations down from the loft, and after J-cub went to bed we put Phil Spector on the stereo and put up the tree and decorations. It looks lovely, the cats are amazed (they were only babies last year so probably don't remember the fun they had with baubles and tinsel) and we can't wait to see what J-cub thinks of the lights in the morning.
We're having Auntie Rachel's Christmas Day tomorrow (as we can't spend Christmas with our respective families, each lot of visitors will be having their own Christmas Day with us over the next few weeks), and everyone else is already asleep so I'm going to join them.
Today's list item was supposed to be #32, get J-cub measured for shoes. Friday is always my busiest day, and today is even more so, since we are entertaining my lovely sister-in-law Rachel until Tuesday. I started the day with a brisk walk through the lovely frosty (or biting cold, however the mood takes you) morning, trying to get J-cub to stop screaming and start his nap. He eventually fell asleep and I walked around the village for 30 minutes, before braving our local mother and baby group. We spent a happy hour and a half discussing Water Babies, plans for our Christmas party, baby development, shoes, toys and presents whilst the babies played and fought on the floor.
Back home for a super-speedy lunch and change, then packed us all into the car to drive to Water Babies at 2pm. The pool was below the prescribed 30 degrees, and J-cub shivered and screeched his way through what is usually an enjoyable half-hour. Back in the car, we journeyed to our local retail park, to check out the Borders sale (still more expensive than Amazon), give J-cub his milk in Starbucks, get him measured for shoes, and do a quick Tesco shop. The bitter cold and rain meant that J-cub was bundled into his buggy under a pile of blankets and a rain cover instead of being carried in his Mei Tai. He was evidently nice and toasty warm, as he didn't wake up during the transfer from car to buggy, and stayed asleep for 2 and a half hours. His average nap length is 35 minutes, so this was a bit of a shock to the system.
We didn't want to wake him for something as trivial as buying shoes, so he stayed happily asleep until we were waiting at customer services in Tesco, as they had overcharged us for nappies (and subsequently refunded us more than double what we'd paid - we kept our mouths tightly shut and exited the store with 2 boxes of free nappies and £6 for the privilege of removing them from the store).
So the day was almost a fail - but victory prevailed in the last few minutes as I managed to perform the Herculean feat of putting away the oscillating fan. Here's the evidence of this startling task: